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Paul Groff

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  1. Yes, that's another lovely way to play in "F pitch," using a Bb/F instrument with G/D fingering (so that the inside row takes the place of a nominal "home key of D"). Here's Noel using G/D fingering similarly to obtain "F# pitch," using a B/F# instrument I think:
  2. Yes, and it's not only F flutes ("third flutes") and F whistles; the late Finbarr Dwyer, playing with BC fingering on a DD# accordion, has inspired quite a few other box players to adopt a similar approach to play tunes in "F" pitch. Again, a DD# accordion is a minor third higher than a BC, just as an EbBb concertina can be a minor third higher than a CG.
  3. Here's some lovely playing from Noel Hill on what looks to be an Eb/Bb Lachenal: A Stór mo Chroí in C minor and The Wheels of the World in F. https://www.facebook.com/gradamceoil/videos/353477939575017
  4. Hi Cohen, This is not always true when 2 different pads open on to one chamber in these 4 row Jeffries, but I have seen it before. Chris Ghent asked about this exact issue in his comments on the earlier thread that I cited above. It shouldn't be suprising, because the location of the pad hole in relation to the tip vs base of the reed tongue is one of many variables in the function of concertina reeds. The amount of lift of the pad might also be different between those two buttons that operate on the same reeds/chamber, and of course the acoustic filtering/reflections will be slightly different for any two pad locations in the action case. Regarding airways that open to direct airflow nearest the base vs the tip of a free reed tongue, one familiar example is that accordion reeds often function and sound very differently if flipped top to bottom in their location on the reedblock. You can often see the highest few reeds on a reedblock inverted compared to most of the lower reeds. And another example: bass reeds in a german open-pallet melodeon with growlbox function and sound very differently depending on the location of the airway in relation to the two ends of the reedtongue. I once bought a professionally-restored Wyper model International whose basses didn't sound full or "right" and discovered that the bass reeds had been installed differently than in my original, unrestored example. The basses gave the right notes but were muffled and quiet until I flipped them 180 degrees, then they came to life.
  5. Ah but for fingering, it can be a wonderful option to bring in the left thumb! As a piano and organ player, I always feel it's a waste of that left thumb when there's no button for it on an anglo.
  6. David, please see my comments and photos on this thread:
  7. Hi David, This is very common in the 4 row Jeffries anglos and has been discussed here before. If you can't find the threads and photos, please message me and I'll hunt them down as I contributed explanation and photos to those earlier discussions. In my opinion, this is the reason for what you see: These anglos, especially the early (1890s) examples of the 4 row type that are very compact, were made to a fairly standard pattern of reedpan and often had a bird whistle sounded by one of the buttons in the left hand inside row. That bird whistle only requires a very small chamber in the reedpan, too small to accommodate a reed of useful size. But (as a general matter, even today) we often see that some players object to committing one of our concertina buttons to a novelty effect and prefer an actual note for every button. Sometimes a concertina with novelty effects (bird whistles, baby cries) can have those converted to a note by fitting in two reeds to the chamber originally dedicated to the novelty effect, but in the case of some of these 4 row Jeffries that's not practical without major surgery. I think when we see a button in the inside row of a 4 row Jeffries whose pallet operates (as an extra pallet!) on the same chamber as contains the reeds for the left-hand thumb button, we're seeing the best option to use that inside-row button (normally committed to bird cry) for a note. This may sometimes have been done as an after-sale modification but I think I've seen examples where that "change" was done in the original construction, to avoid having to use a radically different chambering plan. Easier to see in comparing photos of the two types of reedpans and action boards.
  8. Great thread Doug Barr! I'll echo Doug's thanks to Rich, Doug Creighton, Bob Snope, and all their community for exceptional service over the decades! PG
  9. Hi Robin, Well laminated woods offer a lot of protection against shrinkage/warping/checking/cracks. That's why they have often been used in guitar tops especially for budget instruments shipped internationally (or indeed for some very high quality instruments such as some Gibson acoustic-electrics). But it's not the case that *all* Dipper concertinas sent to N. America have had laminated action boards, because the Dippers were generous enough to make some solid ones for me. To my ear, these were exceptional even among Dipper concertinas for their tone quality. Of course concertinas made with all solid wood plates are more demanding of careful treatment in some North American climates - just as is the case with guitars or violins made of solid woods. Humidity has to be monitored and maintained. Not every player, even pros, can properly maintain solid-wood instruments.* So it can sometimes make sense to prioritize dimensional stability when building an instrument that will travel far from the permissive English climate. Details of sound quality in particular instruments are always subjective and I respect your opinion if it may differ from mine. I think we can agree that the Dippers' instruments are designed with great care and thought, and built with superb craftsmanship for superlative performance. PG *
  10. Wes, My 2 cents: don't jump to conclusions based on what you read that may or may not be applicable to your own instrument! It's easy to pick up negative vibes about instruments when reading but to make a judgment about timbre of a particular concertina, and what might improve it, often takes the in-person experience of a skilled player and/or craftsman trying that instrument and tinkering with it. And I think *any* instrument can be played in ways that get the most music out of it. That's the world I lived in in my early years playing on cheap guitars, giving lessons to students who all owned better ones. It can be an important lesson to learn and important attitude / skill to cultivate: Love the one you're with. But, I think there are lots of reasons any particular concertina might sound "harsh," including the tuning, the valves, the condition of the reeds, the playing technique of the player etc etc. My comments (and I'm going to assume Wally's) about laminated internal plates were assuming "all other things being equal:" I think I can often identify unpleasant qualities in the timbre of instruments with laminated soundboards *compared to other, nearly identical instruments with solid soundboards.* And furthermore, I suspect that the solid woods (possibly also the laminated woods) can change their resonant/sound absorbtive qualities as they age for many decades or a century - either just from slow drying out (for example of some components of the cell walls of the wood) and/or from vibrations running through them during playing. There's something about really old wood. That's why I made the implication that it's possible that some kinds of A/B comparisons of different materials in newly-built instruments might be like comparing newly-bottled wines. Better now might not translate into better over time, if the "tortoise" (new solid wood) might eventually win with a sound that the "hare" (synthetic) fails to achieve. This is plausible if we think of "harshness" as overtones that we don't want in the sound. Synthetics might damp those unwanted overtones to produce a less irritating timbre compared to new wood - but with aging, the wood might contribute a beautiful timbre of a different type, compared to the synthetics. Rosalie Dipper once shared her thoughts with me that the Jeffries concertinas might have been unduly brash when new. All these ideas are speculations of course and some are hard if not impossible to test. Regarding a failure to hear improvement over time - maybe this just takes a lot more time and use! I once once got in a concertina to sell on consignment that may have been a good counter-example to my own generalization. It is a 40 key aluminum-ended post WW2 Crabb anglo with laminated soundboards. I don't think I've ever seen a concertina so recent and showing such extreme wear, just from normal playing use -- think Rory Gallagher's, or Willie Nelson's, or Steve Cooney's guitars. Aluminum buttons really worn down, etc etc. This one exception had just the kind of very clear tone quality that I would have guessed could only come from solid wood soundboards. Crabbs have a great sound, but this one had a particularly gorgeous sound. When I mentioned this to the consignor, he said that the former owner "played all the shrillness out of it" - maybe 10s of thousands of hours. Food for thought. PG
  11. Remarkable Geoff, many thanks! So many rosewood ones, and all of those (from that time interval) BF#. Is there any indication of pitch standards in the records, or old tuning forks or reference sets of reeds that can be definitively dated to this period?
  12. Another excellent hypothesis Malcolm. Here in the US, the Hohner (and occasional Koch) F#BE boxes I've seen usually date from the 1920s - early 1930s, and usually found in A 435. Some steirische-type boxes were also made or retuned to those keys. And like you, I've seen Italian organettos here in the US in keys of F#, B, and F#/B (those range from throughout the early to mid 20th century and usually in A 400 - 450). Recently I've learned that F#B ( low pitch) is not a rare key for two-row Hercule diatonic accordeons (made in Switzerland) from the very early 20th century. Geoff might know if the Crabb B/F# anglo concertinas were sent abroad. They did travel! I do know of a circa 1876 Crabb anglo that was exported or carried to California in the late 19th century, but it was found in C/G A 446 (Society of Arts tuning, non-equal temperament), seemingly a time capsule from the 19th century, and it's not listed by number in Geoff's records, so it doesn't help with the specific question of the B/F# ones. But your mention of Italian boxes reminds me that I think some organettos in the US tuned to very odd keys / pitches may have been tuned to match other folk instruments such as bagpipes. Possibly there was another kind of instrument in some musical contexts in England ca 1890s that could have filled a similar role - B, or C# bagpipes? pianos that had sunk in pitch? barrel organs? fifes or low pitch tin whistles? ca 1700 - 1800 flutes in very low pitch? Just brainstorming a bit with this last idea in case it suggests another solution to Stephen. I'm still thinking that Stephen's idea that high-pitch B/F# was " approximating low pitch C cheap continental free reeds," and/or the idea of a "factory average tuning to be customized in the locality of eventual sale" seem most likely explanations to me. PG
  13. Transposition I'd say; if they are using a Bb cornet, a note written as "C" sounds as "Bb." Thus what the SA was calling the "Bb key" was concert pitch Ab (but of course at the high English pitch of the day, most commonly A 452.5 in my experience.
  14. Hi Stephen, Thanks! Almost totally consistent with what I have seen (hands-on and via photos and print). As I wrote above, the early SA anglos I've seen were mostly Lachenals and Jones (but you're correct that I should have reversed the order of those two). I saw that Barleycorn had a Crabb anglo with SA markings for sale at one point and there are mentions of Crabb/Ball Beavon anglos bought for a Salvationist band ca 1920. But that is after our time period of the "B/F# records mystery." I have seen anglos with SA markings in the keys of Bb/F, but the vast majority of SA anglos I've seen have been Ab/Eb as I wrote above, and it is certainly possible that the Bb/F ones I saw had been retuned from Ab/Eb subsequent to their original use in the bands. PG
  15. Dan, My response is that the B/F# instruments may not have had anything to do with the Salvation Army. Did Crabb do much business with them before Lachenal shut down, decades after the time period in question? Again, Geoff could tell us. But I don't share your implication that the SA influence was pervasive in all musical contexts where concertinas were played. One reason that Stephen's hypothesis seems plausible to me is that German instruments were abundant and cheap -- the entry level concertina for the majority of players -- but I think that some of the best players after learning on the German concertina might have moved up to a Crabb or Jeffries. It seems reasonable to me that such players would still be in a musical context along with other German concertinas - maybe their own first instrument would be passed down to a child or younger sibling or friend who would want to play along. Maybe some good players with a Crabb would be giving lessons to beginners who had a German instrument. Then again, consider the other idea I proposed earlier - that B/F# could be a "factory tuning" as a point of departure, a reasonable decision for instruments sent out of London to retailers elsewhere, there to be tweaked locally by local tuners to the local keys/pitches which might be Bb/F or C/G, slightly lower or higher than high pitch B/F#. An analogy could be that many tools as sold in those days were not necessarily in final form - they were intended to be custom fitted with wooden handles and adjusted to the needs of the user. PG
  16. This is really great research and could suggest a boon to musicians, especially those in places with low or variable humidity, who may struggle to maintain conditions ideal for solid-wood instruments. As with the delrin flutes etc. But an analogy might be worth entertaining, because concertinas can potentially be used for decades or even hundreds of years: in many cases, we don't judge quality in wine by how much people enjoy drinking it when it's first bottled. I do think that modern wooden concertinas with laminated soundboards, even by the same maker, can often sound harsher in timbre than those with solid wooden soundboards. I've commissioned modern makers to use the solid woods with great results, and I believe I can hear the same difference in timbre in the Wheatstones and Crabbs around the time that they shifted generally from solid to laminated soundboards. ( I agree 100% that solid wood for fretted ends is asking for trouble). But more to the point I suspect that the slow aging of solid wood affects some of the acoustical properties -- the solid wood in concertinas from a century or more ago is so light and resonant I really believe that it's contributing to some of the satisfying complexity and responsiveness of the best vintage instruments. One interesting a/b comparison could be to try switching out the original reedpans of a great Jeffries for an exact replica in resin that fits the original reeds. It would be more work maybe to make up a resin action case that fits the original metal ends but that could be done too. PG
  17. Hi Dan, Thanks. I thought you were saying that you agreed with Stephen, but it seems that you disagree when he wrote: "My own theory on that subject revolves around the most common pitch in England at the time being a high pitch that was half-a-semitone sharp of our A-440, whilst many German concertinas were in a flat pitch that was half-a-semitone lower - so an English-made Anglo in B/F# could play with a German C/G... " I happen to agree with him, but pointed out that the equivalence is not exact for the most common late 19th century pitches both in German concertinas and London concertinas. However, I see that you are arguing that the Crabb family records for B/F# instruments are referring to high pitch Bb/F instruments. I personally doubt that this is true. I've seen B/F# Crabb concertinas in high pitch, and also interesting cases such as I mentioned where an instrument whose reedwork seemed undisturbed for a century had all notes tuned to high pitch BbF except the left hand thumb button which was B/B also in high pitch. I don't think the Crabbs would have made many concertinas in the keys of Bb/F in the usual English high pitch (or even higher) and noted them in the records as B/F#, (understood as pitch of A 435 or lower) in the late 1800s at the time that Geoff finds B/F# noted so often in his records. But if so, there might be evidence of that in the form of the records (indications such as "B/F# LP" maybe, if those should occur?) surviving tuning forks dateable to the John Crabb period (with labeling for B and at a very low pitch), or notations in particular instruments. The Salvation Army anglos I've seen in original tunings that could be from the late 1800s - early 1900s (though mostly Lachenals and Jones) are pretty clearly in high pitches such as A 452.5 and usually in Ab/Eb, sometimes in Bb/F. Geoff, next time you check in, it would be wonderful if you can add any further evidence! PG
  18. Hi Dan, I think I see where you are going with this idea. I believe when you write " "B/F#" concertinas in effect were Bb/F concertinas in the old high pitch" you mean that *low pitch B/F# concertinas* could possibly be equivalent to *high pitch Bb/F concertinas.* In a way this is fairly close to true (see below **) although I'm not sure it is exactly what Stephen meant. Later in the concertina era (I believe, in the 20th century, after the John Crabb period) I do see German-made concertinas with a B row in low pitch, around A = 435 to A = 437, made for export to England (we can tell that because they turn up in England, are labeled in english, and some of them are copies of 3-row Lachenals -- though with German action design and reeds mounted on longish plates -- and with English rather than German non-equal tuning). The B row of those German-made concertinas in low pitch (A 435-437) is not too far from English-made anglos in Bb/F high pitch (A 452.5) though the latter are audibly flatter to my ear. (see below for the reason **) However in my interpretation Stephen is talking about the John Crabb period in the late 1800s when English pitch was quite high, usually A 439 to A 460 and with Society of Arts pitch (A 446 to A 448 ) and Philharmonic pitch (A = 452.5) especially common. At this time if the Crabb workshop made a concertina in B/F# it wouldn't be likely to be close to a Bb/F german concertina, rather it would be more likely close to a C/G low-pitch german concertina. ** Close to true. Here are some rule-of-thumb rough conversions for key and pitch. They are based on 12-tone equal temperament for simplicity, although I have evidence that the german concertinas and probably most of the english made anglo concertinas during the John Crabb period were not tuned to equal temperament. If you explore this table, you'll see that "Bb when A = 452.5" is quite flat of "B when A = 435" or even "B when A = 430." But, possibly close enough! When A = 430 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 405.87 Bb = 455.57 B= 482.66 C=511.36 When A = 435 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 410.60 Bb = 460.87 B= 488.27 C= 517.31 When A = 439 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 414.36 Bb= 465.10 B= 492.76 C= 522.06 When A = 440 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 415.3 Bb = 466.16 B= 493.88 C= 523.25 When A = 447 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 421.91 Bb = 473.58 B= 501.74 C= 531.58 When A = 452 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 426.63 Bb = 478.88 B= 507.36 C= 537.52 When A = 452.5 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 427.10 Bb = 479.41 B= 507.92 C= 538.12 When A = 453 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 427.58 Bb = 479.94 B= 508.48 C= 538.71 When A = 454 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 428.52 Bb = 481.00 B= 509.60 C= 539.90 When A = 454.7 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 429.18 Bb = 481.74 B= 510.38 C= 540.73 When A = 458 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 432.29 Bb = 485.23 B= 514.09 C= 544.66 When A = 460 Hz in 12 tone ET, then G#= 434.18 Bb = 487.35 B= 516.33 C= 547.03 Note: I had to edit this several times because the information here is so complex to explain. I hope I have it right this time but my apologies if errors remain - I assume we'll sort those out in the ensuing discussion.
  19. I agree with this as a very likely explanation. Not in contradiction of this, but to build on it, we can consider a corollary of producing anglos in London in the B/F# keys in the late 19th century. By that time there were tuners well distributed through the country though production of the instruments was more centralized. Stamps and markings inside the instruments give evidence of those many and widespread tuners. I think it's likely that many of the B/F# anglos were retuned up or down, i.e. to Bb/F or to C/G in one of the various English pitches. I have more than once seen evidence of this, even though the BF# anglos may have been stamped as if in CG. One example was a Crabb 31 key that was all tuned to BbF (high pitch) except for the left hand thumb button that was tuned to B/B. The re-tuner must have missed that one! So a B/F# box might not only have played well with german C/G imports, but also have been a versatile starting point if exported to Liverpool (etc) where it could have been repitched locally to suit the needs of players there. PG
  20. Great suggestion of the Akkordoline. However, my recommendation is that you check out the Hohner Terzett. It's a small instrument that looks like a Vienna-style accordion with 1 row of 10 buttons on the right side, and 4 bass buttons, plus a stop on top. But the 10 buttons in the row each play 3-note chords. The stop adds an additional fourth note to each chord (usually converting that chord into a 6 or a 7 chord). Playing it actually reminds me of playing autoharp. Chords do change on the same button with changing bellows direction, but it wouldn't be hard to re-reed one for unisonoric chords. If you don't have the exact chords you want in the stock layout, again you could have it retuned. Here's a discussion (note that you must register and sign in to see most photos posted to melnet): http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,1529 Here's one listed for sale; others can be found listed on Reverb.com: https://www.musik-center.de/en/hohner-terzett-c-4-bass-overhauled.html And I'll try to attach a layout diagram found in this discussion: https://www.musiker-board.de/threads/hohner-terzett-spielen.566482/ PG Hohner_Terzett_Chart.pdf
  21. A small scrap of sandpaper, various types will work, glued to a popsicle stick (or similar) is a cheap functional solution to remove solder on reeds that saves wear or even cleaning of finer tools. No matter how you remove soft solder, clean well and avoid inhaling the lead dust.
  22. Hi Peter, I have an interest in this model myself. I have a couple of examples with various types of damage including broken reeds or repitched in the past. My ultimate goal is to end up with one really well-playing restored example and also a second one that's completely original, complete, but unrestored as a record of their original build specs. So I'm interested in other examples as parts donors (maybe one will have the reedplates I need, buttons, etc) if priced well, or even if it can be found a really perfect unaltered example that's never been retuned, revalved, etc. Since yours would require expensive postage and you've already started restoring it, it's not a good fit for my needs. However, since you ask whether you got the description right, I think you should check whether the two sets of reeds are really as you say (quoting your auction listing): "This steel-reeded 20-button concertina appears to be in C/G. It has a single set of reeds for each button (20 reeds each side), all of which play both pushing & pulling the bellows. A second set of reeds can be introduced on both sides, using the slider button by the hand rest. This gives two notes one octave apart, for each button both pushing & pulling the bellows (giving a total of 40 reeds each side)." Every example of this model that I've seen in hand is *not* in octave voicing (LM or MH). Rather they are in MM celeste or tremolo voicing so the two reeds sounded together are not an octave apart. They are in the same octave but tuned slightly apart. To me your video seems to confirm that your concertina is also voiced MM. Good luck with the sale. To anyone else with one for sale, I'm interested in parts or unrestored examples, thanks! Best, PG
  23. Hi Ross, And I never suggested that you did. However, given the title of this topic, I think it's important to make clear that the concertina in question was *not* marked, nor represented, as a Jeffries. That was actually not explicit in your post above. As a general point: I think Geoff's dating work argues that the Crabb family firm was making concertinas with many design features that are considered "typical of Jeffries anglos" before, during, and after the period in which members of the Jeffries family were retailing similar ones. Thanks! PG
  24. Hi Olivia, I'm pretty busy with my current work as biology lecturer the past 20 years. Ross has a great tip for you with Bob Tedrow. Have fun with your concertina! PG
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